Art Supply Insiders Podcast

ASI 32 "Understanding Artist Papers" Interview with Joe Domeier, N. American Sales Director, Hahnemühle

June 14, 2022 Jeff Morrow & Dave Lee
Art Supply Insiders Podcast
ASI 32 "Understanding Artist Papers" Interview with Joe Domeier, N. American Sales Director, Hahnemühle
Show Notes Transcript

Hahnemühle manufacturers unique papers for unique works of art since 1584. If you want to understand Artist Paper, Joe breaks it down for you in easy to understand language. Hahnemühle is one of the leading European paper producers. The distinguishing feature of Hahnemühle was and will be the ability to combine tradition with modern technologies. This way, paper is produced according to old recipes, passed from generation to generation, and it continues to meet the highest demands of present-day standards. If you want to understand paper, this is a must listen to podcast! To learn more about Hahnemühle click here.
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And welcome back to our supply insiders. My name is Jeff Morrow, and today we're talking to Joe Domeier who is the north American north American sales for Hahnemuhle. Did I say that right?


You said it right. Hahnemuhle yeah.


But you know, when you're just looking at it, I had no idea until you phonetically put it out there for me.


Yeah. It's, it's, it's one of those where, you know, we get called hammer mill sometime, which is a completely different kind of paper. Yes. But, we get Hahnemuhle is what most folks in the us, uh, term us as it's just the easiest Americanized pronunciation is Hahnemuhle but Huhnemuhle.


Well, the, the, the simpler, the better for me. So tell me a little bit about. Hahnemuhle, what, who are they? What do they do? Well, how'd you guys get here?


They're new, they're new somewhat to the us. And I can give you a little bit, but I'll go all the way back into the, the ancient history. They started in 1584 in the same source in Dossel Germany. Uh, and they have, the mill has not been inoperable since that timeframe. So, uh, since 1584, 438 years of paper making, um, Primarily because of the water source that's there, we are in a very, uh, environmentally rich, uh, neighborhood of the German. It's the Soland Hills neighborhood of Germany. And, uh, so the water is so pure. Uh, in fact, uh, although we do, we do like to claim that the beer, the brewery in Einbeck down the, down the river from us can sometimes taste our paper. Uh, cause the, we, we actually put the water back so pure. Uh, we, we take out any toxins from, from fertilizer or, uh, livestock waste as well, but yeah, 438 years, 38 years came to the us and did, uh, distribution through two companies. Uh, most folks. Back five years ago, 10 years ago would know us primarily for digital printing paper for the photography industry, as well as Intaglio printing, um, uh, papers.

Uh, our copper plate papers are German. Etching papers are jurors etching papers. So the more traditional print making papers, but, and we were in, we introduced the full watercolor line drawing and sketch. And, um, traditional fine art line in 2017 is when it started hitting retail stores. And we started showing end users of the, the spreading the word, uh, probably latter latter part of that year 2017.


So this is really our, uh, first opportunity to talk to anyone about. Paper in the, in, in the art industry. So tell us a little bit, why, why is it that Hahnemuhle is so different than your competitive brands?


The, the real key, in many cases with Hahnemuhle is that a, we make the paper. So there's many, uh, um, sources out there that you might see the name on the pad, but they didn't necessarily actually make the paper from fiber all the way to finished material or finished stock. That is what we do. In fact, many major brands that, you know, in the us. we actually make some of their paper. Oh, really? So, uh, it's, it's one of those things where, uh, we are a manufacturer of paper products. We tend to also, because of our size. And, uh, the fact that we're still a family owned business, we have full control over how we make our product.

So we take a lot of pride in our consistency from one batch of paper, to the other batch of paper, to the other batch of paper. Uh, so that it's something that some of the larger. If you went through some of the other brands that are out there, especially in the watercolor market, they're owned by larger, um, shareholder, uh, organizations, stock market organizations that are looking for the bottom dollar every single time. And we're not, um, we are still making paper one batch at a time.


Wow. So you, you talked a little bit about watercolor paper and, and I know there are a couple of terms there, and I think it's for watercolor paper, correct me. If I'm wrong, we hear the terms of cold press and hot press, and then there's different weights of paper. Can you walk our audience through a little bit of that and give some understanding?


Sure. The paper is made as the surface of a paper is made primarily in its, while it's drying, so to speak. So if you have a paper it's going to absorb or basically take the, uh, imprint of the felt that it is on. So as paper is being made, there's a fabric felt a truly, a felt fabric that leaves an impression on the paper.

And depending on how thick that felt is, or how, uh, rigid that felt might be. If you wanna do a felt with lines across it, you can do that and create lines on your paper though. Hot press cold, press and rough are the three primary, uh, uh, uh, paper surfaces in watercolor. So a cold press is gonna be a, a medium textured paper. Most artists are gonna be very familiar with cold press. It's what they learn on. It's what they train on. It's the easiest to train on. If you're a large landscape painter, uh, Jeff, what you might be using is the rough, because you want that rugged texture sometimes. So a rough is gonna give you a deeper groove or deeper grooves and valleys between the ridges and a hot press is just almost what it sounds like.

It's a paper that's been. Put through super heated rollers, uh, towards the end of its material or end of its manufacturing. And it's like ironing out, uh, the wrinkles. And so you're ironing, basically the paper to a smoother surface.


So cold press is, so it kind of goes rough cold press, then hot press. If you were going for the roughest surface, the next roughest and then the smoothest.


Yep. And then different weights of paper are designed or developed based on how much, um, The speed of the equipment and, or the mixture. So you might mix 10% fiber with 80% water. If you're making a lighter weight paper, or you might mix 40% fiber and 60% water with a heavier paper, uh, allowing the, the paper thickness.

So in paper terms, in most cases, speaking watercolor here, 140 pound, or it's also equal to 300 grams. And then we have a 300 pound product that equals 640 grams. And this is similar with ahas or Fabriano as well. Um, so those are kind of the standard trades. 22 by 30 is the average size of a deckle edge watercolor paper.


Now, would you say 140 pound and 300 pound? Is that the thickness of the paper? Is that the density? What does that really mean?


It really comes down to the density of the paper, the density weight of the paper. And I could go into a whole shoot and match high, high tech detail, which is, uh, if I had a diagram and if it was a visual, I could show you some visual.

But what it is is, is essentially they're taking 500 sheets of paper to a specific size. And in our case, we use, what's known as a Bristol scale and they'll weigh it. And then when whatever the weight is of those 500 sheets of paper is basically how much, uh, the weight of that paper. So it really isn't about thickness. Um, although of course, a 640 gram, uh, 500 sheets of that is gonna waste 640. Uh, uh, grams or 300 pounds.


Wow. So tell me about the sustainability of your paper fibers. Is, is that a big deal with, with you guys?


Well, we've, we've notoriously been, uh, utilizing the, the more standard fiber materials when it comes to making paper, we've been, uh, using our cotton papers, uh, which is a, is not used from the cotton.

Wall it's used from the seeds. So all that fluffy little fiber around the seeds when the cotton gin pulls the seed out. And, uh, and then the other would be alpha cellulo so those are your two traditional and that's a wood pulp usually made of pine or Poplar. The. Other end of the spectrum is, is we started in 2008 to use bamboo fiber.

Oh, bamboo, as we know is a sustainable resource. Uh, you cut it down three years later, it grows right to the same distance or thickness. Cut it down again. Cut it down again. Very little agricultural, uh, carbon footprint, very little pesticide. Uh, and it's just, uh, much better for cleaning and purifying air.

Since then. We've now created a, an agave paper. Hmm, which is actually made from the sisal fibers of the agave plant, uh, byproduct of the tequila and the health and beauty aids industry. And we make a hemp paper. and we also are now, uh, creating a new, uh, sugar cane paper, which will be on the market, uh, on the digital side of our business.

We do a lot of digital printing papers. It'll be it's already there, but the traditional where, um, we always say traditional is when you don't have to plug in a piece of equipment to get your image. yeah. So. It's um, so on the, on the, uh, the sugar cane paper is something that'll be new. And that again is the BSI fibers from the sugar cane plant. So all of which these, these little, or no pesticides whatsoever, and they're all byproducts of another larger industry.


So you said that this, this plant has been going for 438 years. I mean, so I I'm going back to the beginning, but really 438 years. How's that possible?


Well, it, it, it really does come down to, uh, when you start thinking about a variety of different, uh, we've had been through numerous, uh, ownerships, uh, the most recent group of, uh, owners that we have is a, uh, group of, uh, we have 6 family members that are on the board and another four that are non-family members that are on the board, but it really comes down to the quality, uh, you know, and, and Germans are known for their quality and, and it comes down to that purity of the water and, uh, the changing industries. We've, we've literally, um, our number one industry, which is unusual and you'll, this will be new to you.

Jeff is filtration. Really. So we do filtration papers and medical, uh, industry papers. So when, uh, COVID hit, uh, we were making test strips for the COVID 19 tests. So the European governments required that Hahnemuhle stay open throughout the entire. Uh, process. So it it's one of those things where, and then world war II, we made, uh, uh, paper, uh, for obviously the, the Germans at the time.

Um, we also, uh, world war I, any of those, uh, uh, we were part of the, the, the. Community effort, so to speak, um, for the Germans.


Wow. What an impressive history. So tell us a little bit about the range of products that you, that you guys manufacture for the art and craft industry


For the, for that particular industry. Or we like to call it the traditional arts industry. Okay. Um, the traditional arts industry watercolor, as I mentioned, and I've mentioned at numerous time is our primary. Uh, we have, if we wanted to go with our whole European selection, somewhere around 36 different watercolor papers from different thicknesses, from 90 gram or, or 90 pound paper, all the way up to a, a very heavy, uh, 400 pound paper.

But a lot of those are not made specifically for our style of watercolor painting. We also do some wonderful, uh, books and journals. So we've taken a lot of our watercolor papers and created hard bound books and journals out of those watercolor papers and in today's world, the urban sketching world, especially those become, uh, a real essential tool for the artist.

Even on the someone who's doing plan air, painting that a lot of times they will go out and sketch. In a book and then come back and paint in the studio, et cetera, et cetera, drawing and sketch papers. Uh, we do some beautiful cotton drawing and sketch papers as well as alpha Cellulose some are extremely smooth, like our nostalgie or, uh, one product we call the blue rooster brand.

Um, it's a, uh, pad with a blue cover with a rooster on it. So I should explain to you Hahnemuhle HANA is rooster in German and muhle is mill. So rooster mill, uh, back in the 1870s or 1850s, uh, the owner of the mill was last name HANA, really?


So do you guys, uh, do you guys manufacture? I, I, I know they can get, they can get the paper in pads. They can get the, get it loose. Do you manufacture a, a pad that has an assortment of different types of papers so that maybe if they're their crafter and they're just wanting to get into something and they don't know what paper to use.


Well the, the paper that we do have, that's more of an, an assortment. We do have one assortment pad and that is called the selection 14. Uh, you'll have to do a Google search to find it. Um, I think you're gonna find it. Uh, there should be some, uh, listed on Amazon right now. And the other, uh, there's a, uh, dealer up in, uh, Minneapolis St. Paul that's been doing quite well with it.

Um, and those two, that particular paper is 14 different watercolor papers. Oh, In one pad. Wow. So you're gonna get your 640 gram is in there. Your, uh, uh, 400 gram is in there. You're gonna get things called Cornwall things called Torson. These are some European style watercolor papers that are not normally, uh, sold here in the United States in that 14 sheet pad called the selection 14.


Very cool. So you guys also do pastel paper and sketch paper, is that correct?


Yeah. The, the traditional papers that we, the, the, uh, on paper, or as we like to call it here in the United States, Ingris. Uh, the on papers are something that have been in the us for almost 30, 35, 40 years. They're great. In letter press.

They're wonderful in book binding, but they're traditionally made for saguine crayons, uh, sepia crayons, soft pastel, uh, works. We also make of the velour paper. So if you're a pastelest and you wanna do, uh, animals and, and wildlife portrait. You're gonna get a really soft edge with that. velour cuz it's actually like a flocked paper.

You and I recognize it as the velvet Elvis painting. Yeah. You know, back in the seventies, probably seventies and eighties. Yeah. But um, the velour paper is something that, um, Sells very, very well. And again, for the pastel artist, we'll be at the, uh, international association of pastel societies coming up here in June, uh, and featuring that particular paper.

And then again, I go into our printmaking papers. The copper plate paper for a traditional print maker is by far one of the more, uh, uh, less flexible paper or doesn't doesn't, um, I'm trying to think of the correct term here. It doesn't expand or get crushed. So if you wanna put three colors on that paper and run it through the press three times where you're going through a press, that's got a thousand pounds of weight going on it.

Um, the copper plate can withstand that weight so you can get all three of those colors registered properly.


Is it actually a copper plate or is that just a name?


It's the name? Uh, if in German we'd be calling it COFA truck. Uh, but, uh, it means copper strike or, uh, so basically it's what it's saying is that you've got a plate of copper where you sketch your etch, your image on, and then you use that you code it with ink and then run that through your press. And the, uh, the relief comes onto the paper. Oh, so it's in a, a copper plate printing process where they actually make a, the printing plate is made outta copper.


And I looked at your website and, and I believe you guys have oil and acrylic paint boards. Is that, do, do you still offer that?


They we offer, uh, uh, oil and acrylic, the, the, in the, on the website. It'll describe it as a board, but it's a 300 gram paper and those papers are available, um, through your, us, Blick I think carries the. The, uh, uh, oil and acrylic papers and, uh, they, they are in a block form. So you've got glue on all four sides. So it means it's not gonna stretch and bow. As you paint on it for a plein air painter, you can carry the full block and not worry about, uh, um, that painting, uh, falling out of the block or that page falling out of the block.

But they're, they're textured like a linen textured canvas, um, with a, a oil based or oil resistant finish on 'em and acrylic resistant finish.


So let's, let's talk a little bit more about these blocks. I know a lot of our audience has seen them out there and, and on all four sides, they've got some sort of glue or something like that.

And then they're trying to figure out how to open it up, but can you talk a little bit more? Why is it a block and how the heck do you get it open?


Well, it's, it's, it's confusing to some, because most, most people, when they first start doing drawing and sketching and art, they're using a pad and it's got a glue on one edge or a spiral on one edge.

What a block truly is Jeff is they will take a stack of that paper and glue it on all four sides and leave just a tiny bit of the edge without. so the intention is, is when you are painting on that paper, the paper stays stationary. It doesn't bow or flex or move around. When you add moisture to the paper, it's, it's similar to like taping a piece of paper down onto your board or your desk and painting on it.

But instead it's already taped down, so to speak, to remove the paper, um, most artists would, uh, what I usually recommend folks doing is to take a pallet knife. or if you don't have a pallet knife, if you're watercolors, because you might not use a pallet knife in watercolor, uh, run to the kitchen and grab a butter knife.

Hmm. And you're gonna tuck that underneath the, uh, uh, the open spot in the glue and then run that knife around the out edges of that, um, to take and remove that sheet of. Do not use, do not use an exact O knife for a straight edge blade. Uh, you're gonna either a cut yourself or B cut the paper. and we don't want either.


No, we don't. So no. If, if people wanted to look at your entire array of papers that are available, where do they go to see all of this incredible stuff


it's gonna be on uh, and, uh, that's spelling I'll I'll give it to you. There we go. I was just gonna ask That's because you have to, you can't do an umlauts in a search engine.

What is an, umlauts oh, that's the two little things. There's two little dots over the U. Okay. So let me, let's do it again.

So pronounce it right. We have to put an E in it. I'm gonna again here. H A H N E M U E H L E. .com


So, uh, will they be able to find this, that your, your papers in most of the brick and mortars, uh, throughout the we're talking in the United States, right at the moment, um, will they find it in most of the brick and mortars?


What you'll find in, in the brick and mortars is we started really in, in 2017, like I mentioned, with watercolor books and journals. So our watercolor books and journals are widely distributed amongst the mom and pop. Uh, art supply stores or the brick and mortar, uh, art supply stores. They're also found on your, uh, what I call the major websites, uh, and you'll find almost all our product on, uh, people like a, a, a Blick or Wet Paint, a Cheap Joe's, et cetera.

Um, and then there are some, two or three, uh, Amazon sellers as well. We do not sell direct to Amazon though. We, we allow our, our dealers to, uh, uh, work with that so


Are there any major artists that you work with where they could see, like on YouTube, how the paper receives the watercolor or the pastels that they,


the, the best opportunity to see it is gonna be Steve Mitchell. Uh, is Steve Mitchell is a, a blogger on YouTube and his website is called the mind of watercolor. Mm, he does a variety of brands. I have to be honest, he's not quote unquote loyal and we don't pay our, our bloggers to do this, uh, for us. And then the, uh, other is a, a good artist friend of ours called Sarah Simon.

And her website is the mint gardener, the mint gardener. Yeah. Garden. Like planting mint, the mint. Oh really? And, uh, she does some beautiful, uh, and she, she teaches in such a, a very, uh, understanding logistical way. She's not talking about deep, deep, Lifting of colors and transparencies and layers. Her, her techniques are very, very simplified.

Um, but yeah, we have a, a, a wide array of, of, uh, other artists that I wouldn't necessarily have their email addresses on hand or their. Your website on hand, but


well, no, this would, and, and I know a lot of our artists likes to go online and see how it's used and learn new techniques and why some paper is better for some, some things than others. And this is really, really helpful.


So one of our other, uh, good online bloggers, who's got a huge following is, uh, Vlad Yeliseyev and I've got that wrong. I'm sure. But his, uh, uh, web address is, uh, www.Y E L I S E Y E So that's www.Y E L I S E Y E And if you just did a Google search for Vlad and watercolor.

You will find him. He is a, a wonderful supporter of our products. Again, uh, Jeff, we do not, uh, pay money to get our, um, bloggers, et cetera, et cetera. Everything we do is a, uh, a labor of love for most of these folks because they've fallen in love with our product


Completely understand. Well, I gotta tell you, we are coming to the end here, but we'd love to have you back. If there are more things to talk about in the world of paper. And I gotta believe that there probably is a number of things that we've missed.


Yeah. And, and if you, if you could keep an eye on our, uh, our Facebook profile, Hahnemuhle USA, uh, Hahnemuhle USA on Facebook is gonna be our, um, us only social media. Uh, all our other social media is run, uh, elsewhere, but I will be doing, uh, throughout the year, a workshop known as paper makes the difference.

And it goes through the entire manufacturing process and this is a live and, or, uh, zoom. So whenever that's available or a approaching, we will always post it on our Facebook. So folks can, uh, either join in if they're in the region, uh, it's always free. And you always get free samples. So there two free things in one,


We love that. And I know that paper is kind of mysterious for a lot of people. And the more information we can get out there and having people like you and your wonderful company on here. I, I think we demystify it. And, uh, so the, the Facebook is, uh, Hahnemuhle USA. Correct. And, and your, and, and the little blog that you'll be doing live is paper makes the difference.

Correct. And is that up on Facebook right now? Is that something they can go to, or is this gonna happen in the future?


This is something that they will have to go to in the future. Um, there is one recording that's out there under the NAMTA website. Okay. But, uh, there isn't one that, uh, I know that's available publicly at this.


Okay. Any idea how far down the calendar before that'll first, that'll go up.


I'm gonna say, uh, I'm gonna be recording, recording. Some of the events, most of these events are gonna be live, but we'll be recording some of these, uh, probably available in, uh, July.


Great, well, Joe, really, really good information.

And, uh, like I said before, we were really excited to have someone with the. Paper quality and knowledge that you have and the paper quality that Hahnemuhle has. So thank you again very much for coming.


Hey, it's wonderful. Just, uh, gimme a holler, Jeff


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